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Toulouse - The Bull and the Martyr

Rue Saint Taur
The history of Toulouse is deeply entwined with its patron saint, Saturnin (Sernin), who was martyred in the third century. According to legend, Saturnin, the first bishop of Toulouse, was chained to a taur or bull that dragged him down Rue du Taur. The Church of Notre Dame du Taur is standing on the exact spot where the corpse of Saint Saturnin was detached from the bull as it rampaged down the street.

Façade of Notre Dame du Taur
The Church of Saint Saturnin was renamed Notre Dame du Taur after the Basilica of Saint Sernin was built to accommodate the vast numbers of pilgrims who stopped by Toulouse on their way to the Church of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. 

The genealogy of Jacob, Notre Dame du Taur
This 14th century fresco of the genealogy of Jacob was one of the highlights of my visit to Toulouse. Jacob was the son of Isaac and Sarah and the grandson of Abraham. The 12 Tribes of Israel traces its lineage to Jacob. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, descended from the branch of Judah who is the fourth son of Jacob and his first wife, Leah.

Detail from the genealogy of Jacob

A quiet street in the center of the city

Basilique Saint Sernin
The Basilica of Saint Sernin is the oldest surviving Romanesque church in the world. Construction of the church began in 1080 and holds the remains of Saint Sernin (Saturnin). Pilgrims came to Toulouse to venerate Saint Sernin and still do today. The Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interior of the Basilica
The view of the nave of the Basilica of Saint Sernin and the high altar which was consecrated by Pope Urban II in May 1096.

Place du Capitole
Toulouse is known as La Ville Rose or Pink City because many of its buildings are  constructed from red brick which was made from the red alluvial mud gathered from the Garonne River. The Place du Capitole is an expansive square surrounded by outdoor cafés, perfect for people watching and enjoying street performances.

Toulouse is definitely a walking city with plenty of surprises like this beautiful house. There are a few mansions in the city, leftover from the 14th-16th centuries when Toulouse flourished from the pastel production industry. I stayed in Toulouse for three days so I could go to Albi with its incredible fortress cathedral. But Toulouse deserves a visit on its own. And I hope to explore the Pink City again in the near future.

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie



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